Friday, June 18, 2010

Thursday Girl's Night Dinner - Gnocchi with Gorgonzola Sauce

Gnocchi is one of those things (like pumpkin puree) that might just be better if you buy it pre-made. It was fun to make, though, and since Thursday is Girl's Night (Trey has band practice so my bestie Ashley comes over and we cook) it was a good call. Plus, it made for awesome pics if I do say so myself! The ingredients for gnocchi are fairly basic - you might just have all it takes to make them in your pantry. Once you get the dough made, they cook up really quickly and if you are ambitious you can cook as many as you want and freeze them or refrigerate them for up to 48 hours.

There are tons of gnocchi recipes out there, in fact I even learned that not all gnocchi is made from potatoes. You can use semolina flour, buckwheat and even pumpkin! We used a russet potato, but I'd love to try pumpkin gnocchi. Maybe in the fall. There are also several recommended methods for "ricing" the potato. If you have a ricer, I'm sure that would work really well, but we just smashed it. It worked for us!

Once you have the gnocchi down, you get to decide what kind of sauce you want. I found a gorgonzola sauce recipe, and because I am obsessed with all things un-healthy that's what we made. You could also do a nice browned butter and sage or thyme sauce if you want something a little lighter. Just keep in mind the gnocchi in and of itself is not exactly bursting with flavor. You'll definitely want a sauce with some flavor.

Gnocchi with Gorgonzola Sauce:
1 russet potato
About 1 C Flour
1 Egg
3/4 C Heavy Cream
6 oz. Gorgonzola
6 oz. Cream Cheese

There are several ways to cook a potato. You can boil it, bake it or do like we did and nuke it for about 4 or 5 minutes per side. It's faster than the other methods and I'm not so sure the other methods would be any better.

Pierce the potato all over with a fork. Microwave the potato until tender, turning once, about 12 minutes. Cut the potato in half and scoop the flesh into a large bowl; discard the skin. Using a fork, mash the potato well. Mash in the salt and pepper.

At this point you might want to set a large pot with about 6 quarts of water over high heat to boil. 

Move the smashed potato to a large, clean work surface. Form a ball and then punch down a hole in the middle to form a well. Add the flour, the egg and a dash of salt.

Using a fork, stir flour and potatoes, just like making normal pasta. Once egg is mixed in, bring dough together, kneading gently until a ball is formed. Knead gently another 4 minutes until ball is dry to touch.

Roll the dough out into 3/4" dowels. Cut into 1" pieces. Using a fork roll the gnocchi over the tines of the fork to create ridges. Ashley pointed out that the ridge will catch the sauce. Yum!

Drop the gnocchi in the boiling water. As they rise to the top, they are done. Take them out using a slotted spoon and let them drain.

You may want to saute the gnocchi in butter to get them a little crispier. They are pretty soft dumplings and I like the slight crunch sauteing them results in. We made pancetta for the salad last night, so we dropped the gnocchi in the drippings and added a little butter and sauteed over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes.

To make the sauce, put the cream in a small saucepan over medium-low heat and simmer. Once it reaches a simmer, add the cheeses and let them melt. The sauce will get quite thick over the heat, so you may want to take it off while it's still a little thin.

Put the cooked gnocchi in a bowl and cover with the sauce. Top with freshly grated black pepper. Serve warm with green salad (recipe below).

Green Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette:
Arugula or baby Italian mix
Olive Oil
! tsp. Grey Poupon mustard
Gorgonzola or goat cheese for topping

This is my all-time favorite salad dressing - I found it while googling Lemon Vinaigrette. It's from Martha Stewart. We make a variation of this salad all the time. Usually we use bacon instead of pancetta, goat cheese instead of gorgonzola and we sometimes add pine nuts. Truly though, the salad dressing is so tasty you could just do lettuce and dressing. 

1 tsp. Dijon Mustard
1 1/2 tsp. lemon zest
2 tbsp. plus 1 1/2 tsp. lemon juice
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
6 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

Combine mustard, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a jar. Add some of the oil and shake until well combined. Continue adding more oil and shaking until all the oil is incorporated and mixture is thickened and uniform in color. Pour over greens.

Cook pancetta or bacon and let drain. Crumble over dressed greens. Add gorgonzola or goat cheese. 

Bon Appetit!

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